Jerez, day 2: Coulthard top; Button pips Montoya

David Coulthard and McLaren-Mercedes topped the timesheets as Formula 1 testing stepped up a gear at Jerez today (Tuesday).

Jerez, day 2: Coulthard top; Button pips Montoya

Coulthard recorded a best time of 1m22.632s in his interim-spec MP4-15, edging out former McLaren test driver Olivier Panis (1m23.371s) in his first day at the wheel of a BAR-Honda.

"It was a great first day for me," said Panis. "I'm very pleased with how it went. I now understand why BAR could be so competitive last season and I think we've got a great baseline to work from."

Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello set the day's third fastest time, posting a 1m23.828s lap in the morning, despite two session-stopping spins.

Nick Heidfeld was an encouraging fourth fastest in his first stint in a Sauber, with Jaguar's Eddie Irvine the best of the Michelin runners in fifth overall after a problem-free day on the French rubber for the Ulsterman.

With only Prost and Minardi absent from the Spanish track, day two of the four-day test saw the biggest turn-out of teams and drivers since the lifting of the winter testing ban on December 1. A total of 16 drivers set representative times, with Benetton's Giancarlo Fisichella also present, but grounded by engine problems.

BAR tester Darren Manning rounded out the top six, less than two tenths behind the Jaguar. But despite another positive performance, the Englishman's long-term future with the Brackley-based squad remains in doubt after the signing of McLaren Autosport BRDC Award-winner Anthony Davidson as its official test driver.

Ricardo Zonta had his first dry laps in a Jordan and finished in eighth, a mere 0.012s behind Sauber's Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn continued to put in the miles as he and the team wait for Thursday's announcement on whether motorsport's governing body, the FIA, grants the 21-year-old British Formula Renault champ a super licence.

The much-hyped showdown between new Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya and his predecessor Jenson Button went the way of the Benetton new recruit. Both concentrated on acclimatising to their new cars, rather than going all-out for times, but Button's 1m24.968s best lap edged Montoya's quickest of the day by 0.396s.

As a more valid benchmark, Montoya finished the day just 0.116s behind team mate Ralf Schumacher. The Colombian Champ Car ace believed a small mistake on his final flying lap - when he tried to take the left-hander after the Jerez hairpin flat, but had to correct a sideways moment - cost him the chance to pip the German.

New Williams test driver Marc Gene finished in the 15th spot after a methodical day of testing development parts, while McLaren's so-called third driver Alex Wurz was 16th fastest in his first day of official testing duties.

Testing was interrupted several times to recover spinners, but in the most bizarre incident of the day, the reds were thrown when smoke from the Williams team's in-garage exhaust system was interpreted as a serious pit fire by over-enthusiastic circuit officials.

Testing recommences tomorrow (Wednesday) at 0800 GMT.

To see more pictures from the Jerez test in Autosport.com's race gallery, (Click Here).


David Coulthard (B) McLaren-Mercedes 1m22.632s
Olivier Panis (B) BAR-Honda 1m23.371s
Rubens Barrichello (B) Ferrari 1m23.828s
Nick Heidfeld (B) Sauber-Petronas 1m24.055s
Eddie Irvine (M) Jaguar 1m24.322s
Darren Manning* (B) BAR-Honda 1m24.513s
Kimi Raikkonen* (B) Sauber-Petronas 1m24.593s
Ricardo Zonta* (B) Jordan-Honda 1m24.605s
Jenson Button (M) Benetton-Renault 1m24.968s
Ralf Schumacher (M) Williams-BMW 1m25.248s
Juan Pablo Montoya (M) Williams-BMW 1m25.364s
Luciano Burti (M) Jaguar 1m25.730s
Pedro de la Rosa (B) Arrows-AMT 1m25.740s
Jarno Trulli (B) Jordan-Honda 1m25.920s
Marc Gene* (M) Williams-BMW 1m26.090s
Alex Wurz* (B) McLaren-Mercedes 1m27.570s
Giancarlo Fisichella (M) Benetton Renault No time posted





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